Sarasota County, as of 2/9/22, has made a change to the HAWK signal light sequence that significantly improves safety at intersections using this type of signal. This change was recommended by FLT and is supported by recommendations of the National Association of City Traffic Officials (NACTO).
Previously, vehicles were informed they could proceed cautiously with a flashing red light while trail users were still viewing a countdown of time remaining to cross the intersection. This was contrary to typical intersections, where countdown timers convey to pedestrians or cyclists that they have the right of way. Given the speed of cyclists, a cyclists could believe he had plenty of time to cross, while a driver believed they could go forward.
Based largely on recommendations and research performed by FLT, the county has now changed these signals to “maintain the solid red indication for motorists throughout the full bicycle clearance interval”, as recommended by the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. With this change, these intersections become consistent with typical intersections, where pedestrians or cyclists have the right of way during the full countdown.
This change currently affects the crossings at Sawyer Loop Rd., Proctor Rd., and Webber St. When Section 3 of the Trail opens on March 3rd, the signal at Bahia Vista St. will also include this modification. Crossing signals at Beneva Rd. and Tuttle Ave. will be standard red lights.
We wish to thank the Sarasota County commissioners and staff for following through with this recommendation. This change will make the Legacy Trail safer for all.
With the opening of Segment 2, we now have a continuous 19.6-mile trail extending from Shamrock Park in the south to Bahia Vista Street in the north. The southern portion includes 3.9 miles of the mainland side of the Venetian Waterway Park. See map for the full picture.
The last segment of the extension, shown in green above, is expected to open around the beginning of December. This section will extend the trail another 2.8 miles to Payne Park and Fruitville Road.
Groundbreaking for the paved section of the North Port Legacy Trail Connector was held this morning, Monday, June 6. FLT was represented at the event by (left) Sharon Donovan (FLT Newsletter Editor & NP Representative), (center) Louis Kosiba (FLT President), and (right) Rita Miotti (FLT vice-President).
FLT was thanked by everyone who spoke, including Nicole Rissler (Sarasota County Parks Department) and County Commissioners Alan Maio and Ron Cutsinger. It was a very positive event, which is what we all need these days!
After discussion with management of Sarasota County Parks, FLT has purchased and donated to the county a Stand-On Debris Blower for use on The Trail. Mowing & storms cause The Trail to be littered with debris. This will help to make the trail safer and also help to prevent flat tires.
Check out this video to see this amazing machine in action!
A celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony were held on Friday November 15 to mark the official opening. We hope all trail users will enjoy this new trail amenity sponsored by the Jelks Foundation and Friends of The Legacy Trail. See map here for location.
On your mark…get set…GO! Officials from Sarasota County, City of Sarasota, City of North Port, and other honored guests kicked off the “Race to Completion” of the Legacy Trail with food, speeches and interactive exhibits.
This special event marked the County’s acquisition of the right of way for the Trail extension from the Culverhouse Nature Center, just south of Clark Road, north up to Fruitville Road. Attendees enjoyed a lovely summer morning in Payne Park while receiving the latest information on the property acquisition as well as construction plans.
Sarasota County Commission Chair Charles Hines told the assembled crowd that “the Trail offers a chance to commune with nature, it builds a sense of community, and it honors the rich history of our County… that’s why we voters overwhelmingly approved the bond referendum. It showed us … that [the Trail] is just as important to our community as anything else…It is paramount to our Board to get this project up and running as quickly as possible.”
Sarasota County Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler added that “Since the passing of the referendum, Sarasota County staff have worked tirelessly – and I really mean tirelessly – to bring the Legacy Trail extension to life…when complete, the extension will create nearly 30 miles of continuous, non-motorized, paved, multi-use trail enhancing connectivity from North Port through Venice to downtown Sarasota and include improvements such as crossings and overpasses at Clark Road and at Bee Ridge, amenities, and increased accessibility.”
Friends of Legacy Trail (FLT) has played an integral part in this process, and we participated in the “Race To Completion” kickoff by sharing information and handouts with attendees. FLT President Louis Kosiba noted that “this is a great day for the Legacy Trail. The County has now acquired the land we need for the extension into downtown Sarasota, and it won’t be too long before Trail users can travel directly from North Port through the Venice Train Depot to Payne Park. Our early vision from way back in 2008 is growing clearer and closer to reality.”
Friends of the Legacy Trail sponsored two tours in May for Sarasota County and City of North Port commissioners to view and experience two alternative routes from the Legacy Trail in Venice to North Port.
As part of the passage
of the referendum, $2 million will be put toward a connector route. Both routes
currently being considered rejoin at the eastern end of Border Road. The
Entering the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and enhancing the existing nine-mile packed-surface South Power Line Trail to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port.
Continuing along the lightly used paved South Moon Drive and Forbes Trail into Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Schewe Ranch and creating a new three-mile paved or packed-surface trail to West Price Boulevard in North Port.
While the County has made commendable progress to prepare the bonding documents to secure funding and develop its plans and requirements for design and engineering support to extend the Legacy Trail to Sarasota, progress on route selection for the North Port connection has not been as proactive. For example, there has been no effort to develop a cost analysis on the routes.
In organizing the tour, FLT wanted to bring visibility to and promote dialog on the unique opportunities and challenges with both routes. FLT created an objective list of the pros and cons of each route, which were presented to the commissioners for consideration during the tour. We invited all County and City commissioners, and four participated: County Commissioner Charles Hines rode with City Commissioner Jill Luke on the first tour, while County Commissioner Christian Ziegler rode with North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell on the second tour. We worked with County staff to arrange for the necessary four-wheel-drive vehicle for the rough terrain, and coordinated with park managers from the Carlton Reserve and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve who drove the vehicles and provided valuable insights on park conditions.
Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to get an on-the-ground perspective. Vice Mayor McDowell perhaps said it best: “I am so glad I took the tour…. Seeing the trail path, in person, gave me a unique perspective compared to just a line on a map. THANK YOU.”
FLT will soon be providing the County and City with our recommendations. The County and City will ultimately make the decision, based on costs, environmental impacts, feasibility, and a number of other factors, and there will be public comment periods to inform the communities of their plans. As always, FLT welcomes input from our members and we are in need of volunteers in North Port who can help us enhance and support the connector route. Either one of the routes will provide a beautiful natural experience for cyclists and others.
Without opposition, and amid a large contingent of yellow shirted Friends of Legacy Trail supporters, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously March 14th on a resolution to include a bond referendum on the regular November 6 ballot to extend the Legacy Trail.
If approved by county voters, the referendum would allow the county to borrow up to $65 million to buy another 6.5 miles of unused rail corridor (including spur) to extend the trail to Payne Park and Fruitville Road in the city of Sarasota. The referendum includes funds to allow the county to build the trail – including the portion to Ashton Road purchased by the County in December; trail overpasses at heavily trafficked intersections at Clark and Bee Ridge roads; parking, restrooms and water fountains; and provide funds to better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.
A key provision: UP TO $65 million.Carolyn Brown, the County’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, told the commissioners that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had included $7.5M SUN Trail funds in their 2022/2023 draft work plan, pending approval in June 2018. She also said the County had requested another $4.2 million in SUN Trail funds for FDOT to build a trail overpass at Clark Road. Florida’s SUN Trail program provides $25 million per year for trail construction across the state. She indicated that any funds received would reduce the amount of bonding.
While $65 million is a large amount – the county estimates it at .08 mil in the ad valorem millage rate – it would amount to an annual tax increase of $16.00 per $200,000 real estate property valuation for 20 years. We believe that the collaboration of the county, the MPO, city governments and FLT representing the community provide a compelling case for securing SUN Trail and other potential funds that will reduce that amount.
Are the permanent benefits of extending the Legacy Trail – safety for trail users and motorists, enhanced quality of life and property values, opportunities to connect community trails to the Legacy Trail, support for theSafe Routes to School National Initiative , and non-motorized connections to area attractions, worth the cost of dinner once a year at an inexpensive area restaurant? We think so! FLT and our partners will continue to engage, inform and convince residents that the Legacy Trail extension is a sound investment in our community.
FLT would like to thank the Commissioners for their action, and thank all of our supporters and trail users who have gotten us to this point.
Carolyn Brown, head of Sarasota County’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources, addresses the County Commissioners about The Legacy Trail Extension. The Commissioners unanimously approved including a referendum on the trail extension funding in the November general election.
Click here for video of Carolyn Brown’s presentation to the county commissioners on the funding referendum.